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What is in a dermal filler?

It’s important to be familiar with the underlying components that make up our facial appearance – skin, muscle, fat and bone – because, with age, the loss in volume within these structures contributes to signs of ageing. This is where dermal fillers can help.

Portrait of a young woman looking directly at the camera
The facial regions where a dermal filler can be used.

What is in a dermal filler?

A dermal filler is an injectable treatment that your medical practitioner will administer to help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as replenish lost volume in your facial skin for a more vibrant and youthful appearance.

If you’re not familiar with a dermal filler or have never undergone the treatment, then it is a minimally intrusive, non-surgical procedure that does not require any kind of anaesthesia. The compound or solution in the filler itself is a soft, gel-like substance that is injected directly into the skin.

Even though dermal fillers are made up of a variety of substances (both natural and synthetic), one of the most common compounds responsible for restoring the elastic and collagen levels in your skin is hyaluronic acid or “HA”.

Natural levels of hyaluronic acid are already found beneath the skin’s topmost layer, playing a major role in keeping it smooth, hydrated, plump and young-looking. With age, HA levels naturally decline, making the skin look dry, dull, saggy and wrinkled. This is where dermal fillers come in – which are injected into facial skin, giving you a fresh, hydrated and smooth look.

Most dermal fillers will typically last 6-12 months or more before the body gradually absorbs it and turns it into waste.

Aside from the key benefit of a dermal filler (making you look young and more vibrant), another benefit of the treatment is that it can dissolve itself through a special solution, in case your skin does not react well to it, or if you’re not happy with the end result. Furthermore, most HA dermal fillers come with a numbing agent called lidocaine, which minimises any uncomfortable sensation during treatment.

Other dermal fillers available on the market may contain poly-L-lactic acid, hydroxylapatite, polymethyl methacrylate and even autologous fat – the fat that is transplanted from another part of your body to be injected into the face to make it appear smoother and younger;

  • Poly-L-lactic acid is a synthetic filler that helps to improve collagen production in the skin.

  • Hydroxylapatite is a naturally-occurring mineral-like compound found in our bones and commonly used in reconstructive plastic surgery as well as dentistry for its long-standing success record in terms of safety and efficacy.

  • Polymethyl methacrylate is a semi-permanent filler and even though it’s significantly more durable in contrast with other commonly available biodegradable fillers, it may lead to the formation of visible lumps under the skin in some patients.

When it comes to “what is in a dermal filler”, it’s important to understand both the pros and cons of the substances in your dermal filler as it can affect its longevity, density and texture. Always speak to an experienced skin consultant to understand what is in a dermal filler and which one is right for your skin type.

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